Ten-year-old Logan Hinton held out his hand to display a butterfly that was perched on it.

His grandmother, Brenda Luna, and her husband, Luis Luna, also had butterflies land on them, and the family watched as the insects expanded their wings before flying off.

The three were attending Saturday’s 14th annual butterfly release held by the Longview chapter of The Compassionate Friends of East Texas.

The event took place at the J.R. Curtis Jr. Memorial Garden for the Blind outside Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.

The annual gathering is a way for people who have lost a child to honor his or her memory, with families lining tables with photos and memorabilia of their loved one.

Brenda Luna said she was attending the event in honor of her son, John Hinton, who died in June 2022. Hinton was Logan’s father, who is being raised by the Lunas, she said. Brenda Luna has been a member of the Compassionate Friends group for two years and said she initially joined to remember her sister who had died.

Hinton was her first-born child and died when he was 40, she said.

“They always say that if you see a butterfly and it lands on you, that it’s your lost family member coming to see you, and we’ve always believed that and just talking with the group, it really helps you process everything,” Brenda Luna said.She added that she felt her son’s presence at the event.}Elgin Lary is one of the organizers of the event and said the group has been active in Longview for 17 years. Along with the butterfly release, the group also holds an annual candle lighting every December. Lary said butterflies are a symbol of the children who had been lost and in the same way a caterpillar starts as one insect and transforms into a butterfly, so too do their loved ones fly on wings.

”When I first lost my child, I was fishing in a river in Arkansas, and a butterfly landed on my hand, probably as big as my hand, and it stayed there for about an hour while I’m fishing there by myself just bawling because it’d been less than a year since I’d lost my child,” he said.Lary lost his son, James Lee Lary, and believes the butterfly release and group meetings offer a good way for people to come to terms with and honor their loved ones.”It’s a symbol, and it means so much to us, and you saw the smiles,” he said. Lary added that oftentimes people start to attend group meetings for support and then stop because they’ve achieved whatever they were looking for. He welcomes anyone who feels like they could use support to reach out and attend a meeting. The group meets every second Monday of the month in the Parlor Room at First United Methodist Church in Longview. For information, email e_larysr@hotmail.com or call (903) 806-8927

I'm Yoleyne Romero and my beat includes city/county government. I'm a graduate from The University of Texas at Tyler with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication. I have a dog named Okami that provides endless sunshine in my life.